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What Microsoft Build announcements mean for photographers

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Microsoft's developer conference, Build, is currently under way in San Francisco. What news will it bring from mobile photographers?

Like Apple's WWDC and Google's I/O, Microsoft's Build event is an exciting look at what's next for Windows users. On top of some hardware news this morning, Microsoft made announcements today regarding both its Windows 8 operating system and Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system, which we scoured for potential impacts for photography enthusiasts who use both platforms.

Microsoft announces Windows 8.1, makes it available for preview 

Among the tiny, yet much needed updates to Microsoft's desktop version of Windows 8, (they brought back the START button), there are a few updates that may make things a little easier for photographers. To start, the native Photos desktop application will now let users perform quick edits and adjustments as they view images within the app. In Windows 8.1, you no longer have to install extra drivers to print via wi-fi, and you can use SkyDrive-hosted photos as lock screen images. If you want to get a sneak peak of the updated operating system, you can download a preview here.

Nearly 100,000 apps are in the Windows Store, 160,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store

Today, we learned that the Windows Store is about to hit the 100,000 app mark. Meanwhile, the mobile-only Windows Phone Store has just surpassed 160,000

In the past couple month, there has been a surge of new apps in the Windows Phone Store. (Graph: WMPowerUser)

The Windows Store gets redesigned 

Microsoft also announced a Windows Store makeover. Look for easier discovery and download processes when shopping. The new Windows Store will also automatically update your downloaded applications and suggest new ones based on previous purchases. You can also look for pages that highlight new and popular applications.

The Windows Store redesign is supposed to make navigation and purchasing easier.

Official Facebook app for Windows 8 in development

One of the first items to hit the Build keynote live blogs this morning was that Facebook is actively developing an official Windows 8 app. While the announced app is only for Windows 8, it is a good indication of Facebook's interest in Microsoft's mobile platform. The current Facebook app in the Windows Phone Store is Microsoft-developed. An official Facebook app for mobile would hopefully be less glitchy than Microsoft's version. Other apps announced today for Windows 8 include Flipboard and NFL Fantasy Football. Facebook's Windows 8 development also has mobile photographers looking for a Windows Phone 8 Instagram app. As of this post, Windows Phone 8 has 160,000 apps but Instagram ain't one.

Windows 8.1 will have a native 3D printing API

Microsoft has made it a heck of a lot easier for developers to put 3D printing in their apps. Currently, most if not all 3D printer manufacturers require users to download their own 3D printing software in order to user the printer. By including a 3D printing API, Microsoft is encouraging developers to make their 3D printing software available inside the Windows Store. If developers use this new API, as soon as you are ready to print that lens cap holder you've been modeling, you'll be able to do so straight from your Windows 8 app instead of exporting the file into special 3D printing software.

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